Nov. 14, 2014
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Playing in its sixth five-set match in the last seven contests, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team held match point on the road at Wake Forest Friday night but couldn’t close the door on the Demon Deacons, as the home squad claimed a thrilling 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 21-25, 28-26, 15-11) victory over the Irish in front of a rowdy crowd of 738 at tiny Reynolds Gymnasium.
After winning the first set in a true road match for the first time all season, the Irish looked motivated and energized to snap their season-long, road losing streak. Notre Dame took a key third set behind an impressive offensive effort, and looked in control in the fourth set, as it forced a Wake timeout up 18-13.
However, using the energy gained from a loud crowd, the Demon Deacons slowly chipped away at the Irish lead, eventually tying the match at 20 before taking set point at 24-23. A critical service error prolonged the set and gave Notre Dame life, as they held match point at 25-24 and 26-25. Unfortunately for the visitors, a four-set win wasn’t meant to be, as a kill by Kylie Long stopped one match point and a self-inflicted service error halted the other. From there, a block by Danae Rosendall and Matalee Reed and another kill from Long gave Wake the match-changing, fourth-set victory.
In the fifth frame, Notre Dame jumped out to a 9-7 lead and forced a Wake Forest timeout. However, the Deacs fought back to tie the match at nine before taking a 12-10 lead. The Irish tried to come back after a kill from grad student Nicole Smith made the score 13-11, but Jazmen Russell’s 25th kill and a service ace from Matalee Reed gave Wake the 15-11 fifth-set victory and a 3-2 win.
In a losing effort, Notre Dame had some truly outstanding performances.
Freshman Sam Fry recorded a season-high 18 kills and hit a remarkable .593 while adding eight blocks and two service aces.
Not far behind Fry were Smith, who had 17 kills, and senior Jeni Houser, who posted 16 kills, five blocks and five digs. The Irish trio totaled 51 of the team’s 64 kills.
Dishing out assist after assist to the threesome was freshman setter Maddie Dilfer, who went over the half century mark for the first time in her career, as she finished with 54 assists, nine digs and three blocks.
In addition to the service error on match point in the fourth set, the Irish had 14 others that hurt the squad throughout the match.
For Wake (14-13, 4-9 ACC), libero Caroline Wolf had a match-high 28 digs, while Russell (25), Reed (16) and Long (13) all hit double digits in kills.
The thrilling match from virtually beginning to end featured 44 ties and 18 lead changes.
With tonight’s loss, the Irish have now lost to Wake Forest in five sets in two consecutive years. In both losses, Notre Dame held a 2-1 lead.
Notre Dame (6-19, 3-11 ACC) closes out its road season at 1 p.m. Sunday when it invades historic Cameron Indoor Stadium for a meeting with the Duke Blue Devils (19-6, 11-3 ACC).
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director